Ford Kuga

26 Apr, 2012 10:56am Edward Marx

It's bigger, more efficient and full of hi-tech gadgetry, but is the new Ford Kuga still the best driving 4x4 in its class? We find out


Ford has listened to customers and answered the few complaints they had with the old Kuga. And the new 4x4 is now a much better all-rounder as a result. It's much more spacious inside and easier to live with – but it's still great to drive and good looking. New features such a the automatic tailgate and Ford's SYNC system are welcome additions too, leaving the potentially steep price for top spec models as our only reservation. Apart from that, this is a great compact SUV.  
The Ford Kuga has always been the best 4x4 to drive in its class – but it fell down in one area. It just wasn't big enough. Barely any more spacious inside than a regular five-door Focus hatchback, it lacked rear seat passenger room and carrying capacity. 

The new car seeks to right those wrongs – and bring some extra gadgetry with it, while packing the same fun driving experience to make a VW Tiguan and Honda CR-V feel dull by comparison. It doesn't go on sale until January next year, but we've driven a US-market version to see what you can expect. 

Unlike the previous model, the new Kuga has been designed under the One Ford global car policy, and will be sold throughout the world almost unchanged. That's why, if you look closely, you'll see the car in our pictures is badged Escape, which is the name it'll carry in North America.

Apart from some minor changes to the grille and foglights, the Escape and the Kuga are the same car. With an updated shape teamed with Ford’s new family face, which carries over the narrow grille and split lower intakes of the Vertrek concept car that previewed it, the new SUV looks smart. 

It also hides its added dimensions very well indeed. To suit the US market and appeal more to Europeans, the car has grown a bit, with the same wheelbase but an extra 81mm added to the overall length.

As a result, it's much bigger inside, with a maximum load area of 1,928 litres – that’s a whopping 573-litres more than before – and there's now generous space in the rear for a pair of tall adults. Thanks to a fantastic panoramic sunroof, there's lots of light in the back, too. 

Like its underpinnings, the Kuga borrows most of its dashboard from the latest Focus and C-MAX, but it looks classier than either, with a huge eight-inch central display. The Kuga also packs lots of new gadgets, including Ford's SYNC system, which allows you to pair your smartphone and play music through the speakers via Bluetooth. 

It also allows you to make phone calls in this way too. You can control SYNC via voice command or buttons on the steering wheel, so you keep both hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. 

The most enterprising feature, though, is the automatic tailgate, which makes opening the boot with your hands full very easy indeed. All you do is sweep your foot under the rear bumper. A beep lets you know the system is engaged and that you have two seconds to stand back before the gate lifts. A push of the bootlid button reverses the process. Other features include optional blindspot warning and self-parking. 

The Kuga also features a Curve Control set-up to help tighten its line in a corner, plus torque vectoring to send power to the wheels with the most grip. Together with four-wheel drive, the Kuga feels very stable and secure, but it's also agile enough to have fun, turning into corners well and offering decent feedback through the electric power steering. 

The engine range hasn't been finalised for the UK just yet, but is expected to consist of three diesels, with 114bhp, 138bhp or 161bhp and two 1.6-litre EcoBoost turbocharged petrols with either 148bhp or 178bhp. Manual gearboxes will be available, but we tested Ford's dual-clutch Powershift six-speed automatic gearbox with the 178bhp petrol.

There aren't any official figures available yet, but we'd estimate a 0-62mph time of around 8.5 seconds, and with 250Nm of torque, it had enough urge for snappy overtaking, while sensible gearing meant it settled to a quiet cruise on the motorway. We reckon you should be able to see 35mpg on a regular basis. 

The really frugal Kugas will be the diesels though. Available in just front-wheel drive, there should be an Econetic version that will return nearly 60mpg thanks to stop-start, an active grille shutter and energy-recuperation systems.   

New Kuga prices are likely to start at around £22,000 – a few hundred pounds more than the current Kuga – but top spec versions will almost certainly cost a lot more than current cars to reflect the extra equipment available. That means you could easily spend well over £30,000 on a flagship Titanium diesel, which is edging towards Audi Q5 territory. Whatever version you go for you'll be getting a car that's a great improvement over its predecessor.  

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To my knowledge, Ford hasnt offered this combination, 1.6 ecoboost plus powershift, on any car before. US spec Escape has 1.6 ecoboost mated with a 6 speed select shift classic automatic gearbox , which is very thirsty.
Is it really 1.6 ecoboost+powershift ?

the old one was more beautiful than the new one

Ford offers the powershift in the 1.6 Fiesta in the US. I see no reason why it cant be mated to the 1.6 turbo unit.

Would rather buy a British made Land Rover or Range Rover anyway. The cheapo Spanish made junk will fall to bits be only good for about 10-15 years at the very most, where as most nice British made Land Rovers are still going strong after 50 years.

Barcelona 2 Chelsea 3, invest in British made quality keep jobs in Britain for our children and grandchildren employed with a future rather than some greasy dago in a job for life.

The last time I fell for this sort of philosophy I bought an Austin Metro! No more needs to be said.

With the aeolus philosophy its not hard to see why Lotus will end up in China.

I bet most of the under 25's in your town don't have a job or a future with your new philosophy aeolus, still you will have to pay higher taxes to keep them on the dole watching sky sports all day instead doing nothing, and producing all day.The way to go?

Nothing wrong with the Metro it was fab little car, and sold very well.

There was everything wrong with my Metro, both in terms of design and construction. The tale of woe started when the rear wiper refused to stop wiping as I left the dealership on taking delivery and included several component failures plus three breakdowns. It handled well enough with one on board but fully laden on a slippery road was pretty lethal. Performance was feeble and the replacement Citroen, apart from being infinitely more dependable and better to drive was a brisker performer as well.

IvorBiggen is right in a way but a British controlled mass market car industry where neither management nor workforce could give a damn and relied on xenophobia for sales deserved to fail and did.

Ivorbiggen where the hell are you dude? Do you live in your own fantasy world? Stay with your mex build pos bro

The old ford kuga had very good legroom in the back and more or less the same baggage capacity of the tiguan for example which falsely stated numbers without the cover to almost the roof. The kuga was based on the c-max

Posters seem to have lots of good British names on this thread, they probably working in Spain on the Kuga production lines.

Support our boys jobs up in Sunderland, and keep Britains No1 best selling vehicle in this class Qashqai in employment, don't buy the Spanish made Ford junk.

You are doing "our boys" in Sunderland no favours by suggesting we should buy their products simply because they are "our boys". Quite possibly the Qashqai is a better product; if so it will be a better seller than the Ford. If not it won't and Nissan will have to design a better vehicle. To buy the vehicle simply on account of "our boys" justifies the alter ego of IvorBiggen in Spain banging on in favour of the Ford (made by "their boys").

I am not in the market for vehicles such as these (neither appeals) but, where cars are concerned, I have been the victim of what Kipling called "flag flapping" as referred to previously.

Just for you aeolus.

British Nissan Qashqai was top of its class in sales in 2011. No12 best selling vehicle in Europe compared to the Ford Kuga that was a lowly 67th place.

European Sales 2011

British made Nissan Qashqai 216,950 sales
Sales up 988 it climbed from No13 in 2010 to No12 place in 2011.

Spanish made Ford Kuga 68,564 sales
Sales down 6% if fell from 59th in 2010 to 67th place in 2011.

You can't asked more from our lads in Sunderland No1 best seller in class can you aeolus, Why have you got the same name as the "Aeolus" guidebooks to Spain, are you trying to promote Spanish made Ford Kuga products as well now?

Flag waving not me Nissan are a Japanese company aeolous Doh!

Can't quite understand the need for hyperventilation on the part of IvorBiggen.

Firstly, my nom de plume is from the Roman god of the winds (for reasons I need not go into) and has nothing to do with guide books to Spain, a country I have never visited.

Secondly I made the point that it can be argued the better car is likely to be the better seller. IvorBiggen quotes statistics which i am happy to accept although the excitability with which they are quoted detracts from rather then enhances his point.

Gotta say l am very disappointed with Ford, l was rather hoping we would get the warm friendly boxy old Escape version of the American as the One Ford in this class. Instead Ford went with the anodyne boring cold bland styled Kuga as their One World Ford vehicle in this class.

Boxy Escape USA sales 23,000 a month will be discontinued, and replaced with a Mk2 Kuga, but keep the Escape name.

European Kuga with 5,000 sales a month becomes the world car in this class.

There must be a hidden message in the sales numbers, gotta say l have given up on Ford now, they no longer make the type vehicle l want to buy. It's only the awesome Mustangs & F-Series that keep them in profits in the USA will no longer be able rely on the old warm and friendly Boxy Escape sales was the No1 best selling SUV in the USA. Very sad times indeed to be a Blue Oval buyer.

Maybe it's time for me to move on and buy something else for the first time ever, buy something like the awesome boxy Yeti from Skoda, l am very sad to say l am finished with Ford, never thought l would ever say that.

Come Ford you can do much better than this, where is the magic of the Mk1 Capri, Mk1 Escort & Mk3 Cortina that wiped British Leyland off the car manufacturing map. It created profits from these great old Fords that allowed you to go on today and buy Jaguar, Land Rover, Range Rover, Aston Martin, Volvo.

In sharp contrast Fords UK market share fell from 32% back in the late 70s down to 14% today, Ford have sold off all the family silver Jaguar, Land Rover, Range Rover, Aston Martin, Volvo and closed down Mercury in the USA to keep afloat today. Selling off the family silver is not what l call a success story.

Ford are heading for a billion dollar losses in Europe this year, when are they going to make great dream cars again that folk will want to buy, think they are worth getting up in the morning to go and work for, get the European economy moving again. Can't see it happening with this boring dull cold anodyne styling of this Kuga fridge like appliance sad to say.

Here he is again spouting waffle about buying british, it all gets a little tiresome, and I don't think an internet troll is going to stop people buying a trusted brand for over 100 years in the UK.
Do you really think people give a monkeys where the car is built, no they don't. They want a good strong prduct, with great looks, reliablilty, affordabiltiy and the latest tech. This is why people turn to Hyundai and Kia, they don't care where its built as long as it does what they want it to do.
Ivor your hatred for Ford is bordering on obssesive and I think you may need a little counselling.

The Kuga is already a great car, all be it abit thirsty, now Ford have made it better, with all the latest design and equipment thats making the new focus so popular. The squishqai is a great product, but I reckon 70% of customers don't even know where its built.
The new Kuga will be a big hit, and you my friend cannot change that.

Wow, I'd take a CX-5 over this American-inspired tug any day. There's nothing here that won't look horribly dated in 2-3 years and it looks like worse economy, worse interior, worse styling compared to its former baby-brand Mazda.

Aint a bit hypocritic to suggest buying British only yet go on to mention sales that cover the whole of Europe? Why not show only Birtish sales of the Quashqai since you suggest Brits only buy British made things? The world is changing and we cant be holed up anymore. where is the metal used to make the cars from? where are the components manufactured? what about the food you eat. Just be competitive rather than xenophobic.

Richie - we had the old boxy Escape... in 2003, it was sold as the "Maverick" over here. It was facelifted a few times but never that popular. So why, 9 years later would we bring essentially the same car back looking basically the same?

Ivor - you really need to get out more and realise that the world exists outside of the UK. If every car manufacturer chose to produce vehicles in the UK the labour costs would put prices up if said car makers were to stay in business and have money to invest in the R&D of new products. It's plain to see that you've really very little idea of how the vehicle industry works.

As for sales - there are two ways to sell product. Discount it to the point of making no money on it and sell huge numbers (and then make a huge loss) or sell a good number of them with a decent margin to generate a profit. Honestly have you looked at a Quashqai? It's almost as ugly as a Juke - and they are even ugly in the dark.

Ivor - apart from acting like the typical internet troll/wum/village idiot if you insist on quoting that the Kuga is built in Spain you should at least get your facts correct.

The Kuga has, since it's inception, been built in Saarlouis (GERMANY)

And I don't believe these forums are the right place to be voicing xenophopic, racist terms like "...greasy dago's..." and @ivor with Spanish unemployment being at the level it is, your "jobs for life" view is totally misplaced. If I want to listen to this opinioned c..p I'll go down to my local but I don;t want to read it here thankyou.

Totally agree with thorntonjames - Ivor Little One should get out of the dark ages & drop the bigoted opinions. Completely agree about supporting UK products, there was no need to get nasty about it though.

Sad really. Could be a van/transit from the back. The original Kugar is a thing of beauty, this looks standard bulky USA truck stuff. Size does matter, but big is not always beautiful.

Why AE haven't banned this ivor idiot for consistently posting bigoted and racist remarks. Any other properly regulated motoring forum would of done. Everytime I read an article about Ford, along he comes with remarks about geordie workers etc.
None of us want to read it, we are only interested in opinions and constructive criticism, hence why the facility to comment was made to begin with. Its about time AE regulated this a bit more to remove idiots that are bordering on racist.

Anyway back to cars, having just read about the Ssang Yong, lets hope the new Kuga really delivers or all the money concious will be buying the cheap korean alternatives... its getting very cut throat out there.

Drove the CX5 at a weekend preview event last weekend. Great drive and the Skyactive seems to work well in reality. Certainly worth a test drive if looking at this sector.

Problem for me is the price as with the new Suby and this Kuga. The Koreans offer better value and warranty but still not for me as not great to drive/too cheap inside.

I suspect my next new car will be the next Kia Sportage once they sort these out, which they will. Never thought I'd say that after driving a Hyundai 5 years ago - as bad as Clarksson's Nissan Sunny......

Kuga simply too expensive if AE correct

For those suggesting the Evoque is better engineered than this car, do remember that it to is based on a modified Focus platform just like the Kuga. It even uses identical engines! Fir those who say it looks expensive next to an Audi, do remember you wont get a penny discount off one of those, you'll get thousands off a Ford just for walking in the showroom door. For Ivobiggen, you are absolutely right to say Britain is capable of building some excellent cars. Sadly we dont seem very good a turning out decent, well adjusted, educated citizens if your nasty racist rant is anything to go by.

Another ugyy, pointless, stupid, overweight, over-tall SUV for pathetic suburbanites who desperately want to look widswept and interesting on the way to Sainsbury's. They make me sick, all of them.

Ugly. I meant ugly. But you knew that, because it is. Very. All these stupid little Tonka toys are. Just get a Focus - you know, a proper car. Use the money you save to get the therapy you so obviously need if you'd consider a pointless soft roader.

According to Wikipedia Nissan Sunderland employs approximately 4500 people whereas Ford of Britain employs approximately 35000:

Ford of Britain operates four major manufacturing sites in the UK, in Bridgend (petrol engine production), Dagenham (diesel engine production), Halewood (transmissions) and Southampton (commercial vehicle assembly).[1] It also operates a large research and development facility in Dunton, Essex which employs over 3,000 engineers.

Not to mention the largest dealer network in the UK,so if you want to keep British jobs for British workers better buy Ford!!

Ford seem to have delusions of grandeur when it comes to their prices these days. I kicked the wheels of a second hand SMax the other day and the salesman was trying to tell me Ford was now an Audi competitor! Err, I don't think so!

Ford used to sell 200,000 Cortina's a years in the UK, today Ford does not produce a single car in the UK anymore, it imported 20,325 dull Mondeo's in from Belgium last year in 2011. The Mondeo is an utter and complete sales total sale failure for Ford UK.

The totally useless dull Mondeo sales loser was outsold by the BMW 3 Series, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes C-Class, Mercedes E-Class in 2011 in the UK, the dull Mondeo finished No26 last year in the UK sales chart which the British Dagenham made Cortina was alway the No1 sales king.

55,000 employees at Dagenham down to 1,800 today Wow a total disaster! Ford have no British made car today.

Ford have not produced a single Ford car at Halewood or sold one single British made car since 2,000,

14,500 down to 700 Ford UK employees at Halewood, Wow what a unmitigated disaster for British jobs as Ford pulled the plug.

Whereas the shitty car you drive gives britain a lot of work?

If I was a moderator I'd ban your a**. I like to be cruel sometimes, I even like to judge. Some guys even like to swear a bit. have problems. Worse is that what you is downright illegal, if I had anything to do with ford I'd sue your hide.

POS know nothing.

All of your arguments are flawed. You're trying to convince people to buy Nissan in the belief that it provides more jobs for British workers when the reality is that Ford of Britain employ eight times as many people in this country as Nissan BEFORE you've taken into account it's huge dealer network.

A lad i work with was a finisher at nissan sunderland. A highley skilled job (picking up flaws on the end of the line and soting them out). he said that if sunderland football club lost a match he always got lots of overtime cos the cars would come down covered in HAMMER MARKS. he has apicture on his phone of a black juke with a white bumper on cos they dont give a shit. oh and by the way do you know what they call the quashqi? they call it the nissan catchfire cos every now and then the insulatuion under the bonnet catches fire and they have to evacuate the factory.FACT.

The Kuga (Escape) starts at £14300 in the USA so why is it so expensive over here?

There is no 1.6 ecoboost automatic with powershift. Only on diesel automatic. Nor there is start stop system on automatic transmisions with ecoboost or diesel engines. I wish both technologies are made available soon on ecoboost automatic. I dont want to wait too long.

Key specs

* Ford Kuga 1.6T Titanium 
* Price: £28,000 (est. as tested)
* Engine: 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, 178bhp
* Transmission: Six-speed automatic, four-wheel drive 
* Top speed: 125mph (est.)
* 0-62mph: 8.5 seconds (est.)
* Econ: 35mpg (est.)
* CO2: 160g/km (est.)
* Equipment: Hands-free boot lid, alloy wheels, torque vectoring, SYNC music and phone streaming
* On sale: January 2013